The Community Action Cycle for Community Mobilization

Community mobilization activities within BRIDGE II were spearheaded by Save the Children International using the Community Action Cycle for Community Mobilization (CAC) (1). During these activities, community members and leaders were engaged to identify and address key drivers of HIV infection in their communities.

The Community Action Cycle has seven phases, as seen in the diagram below. Under BRIDGE II, the CAC was first introduced at the district level with key stakeholders, and then at the Traditional Authority (TA) and community levels.  The process is described in detail below the diagram.


  1. Prepare to Mobilize
  2. Organize the Community for Action
  3. Explore the Health Issue and Set Priorities
  4. Plan Together
  5. Act Together
  6. Evaluate Together
  7. Plan to Scale Up

Prepare to Mobilize. This stage of the CAC cycle was done prior to any formal engagement of the community. BRIDGE II built capacity of the project staff deployed to the eleven districts, and project introduction was done at district level through various meetings, to make district officials aware of BRIDGE II and to get their buy in and ownership of the project activities.

District Community Mobilization Teams (DCMTs) were formed to guide implementation of activities at community level, comprised of members from different government departments at district level. Implementation communities were selected by district officials with input from DCMTs, and priority given to those where no other HIV implementing partners were working. 

Literature reviews and Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) were conducted by BRIDGE II staff and shared with district officials/DCMTs, to shed light on the magnitude and impact of HIV, noting specific populations affected by the virus, and measures already in place to address the problem.  KIIs were conducted with traditional leaders, CBO members, and other community members active in HIV prevention activities.

The DCMTs were trained in the seven phases of the CAC cycle to enhance their capacity and prepare them to lead mobilization in their districts. BRIDGE II staff worked in partnership with DCMTs to oversee community mobilization activities.

Organize the Community for Action: The project was introduced to community members in stages – first to leaders and then the wider community. BRIDGE II staff and DHMTs met with community leaders at two levels: Traditional Authority (TA) and Group Village Head (GVH) levels. Each TA has 5 to 10 GVHs under it while each Group Village Head covers 5 to 12 villages.  

 At TA level, Area Development Community Mobilization Teams (ADCMTs) were formed to assist DCMT’s to oversee the mobilization effort and provide mentoring and coaching to other structures formed below them. At the GVH level, community members and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) were invited to participate and form Community Action Groups (CAGs), with members taken from existing CBOs. CAGs comprised of ten people, both men and women, led the CAC effort and oversaw mobilization activities at community level.

Explore the Health Issue and Set Priorities: Exploration of the health issue was undertaken, first by ADCMT and CAG members utilizing two participatory rural appraisal tools (community mapping (2) and problem tree analysis (3)) to explore how HIV affects their communities. Thereafter, CAG members and community members used community mapping to identify hot spots for HIV transmission within their communities, such as beer drinking places, football grounds and market places where night markets are conducted. Utilizing problem tree analysis, community members identified key drivers for HIV in their communities such as multiple concurrent sexual partnerships, lack of communication between couples and harmful cultural beliefs or practices.

Plan Together: CAGs led the development of action plans to address the key drivers for HIV within the community, based on the analysis conducted with the community.  Objectives and indicators were developed and included in the plans.  A community-wide meeting was then called to inform community members of the planned activities and to invite community input on the plan before finalizing.

Act Together: Action plans were carried out by CAGs and other implementing structures, such as Traditonal Leaders Forums (TLFs) and Village Discusion Groups (VDGs). For example, the TLFs met and discussed cultural practices that predispose people to HIV, and over time, in many communities, modification of those practices were addressed via creation of new by-laws, which were then enforced by traditional leaders with input from the community. Village Discussion Groups – groups of 20-25 male and female community members - used Transformative Tools to aid discussions on issues like couple communication and gender equity. Additionally, some issues were tackled through CAG-implemented community wide activities like open days, reaching people via drama and songs.

Duration of activities differed depending on the type of problem, but generally ran from 6 months to a year.  For example, tackling multiple concurrent sexual partnerships generally took longer than addressing excessive alcohol use. Many communities were able to advocate for drinking establishments to close earlier, which resulted in less drinking and unprotected sex during evening hours around those establishments. Tackling multiple concurrent partnerships took longer as it required confronting the issue of sexual networks and addressing secretive and private behavior of many interconnected individuals.

The activities were monitored by CAGs to make sure activities were implemented as planned.    

Evaluate Together: CAGs led community members in evaluating the outcome of their plan against their set objectives and indicators of success to see if what they intend to achieve was realized. An evaluation committee was formed, comprised of men and women from the community, including the CAG members. These members reviewed their objectives and indicators, and then developed tools to assess progress achieved.  

Plan to Scale Up: CAGs led community members in scaling up best practices to other areas of the community where there were no interventions, using what they learned through the evaluation of their activities in the previous step. Community members were very involved in determining what worked well and what to scale up.

References and Notes:

(1) Health Communication Partnership. (2003). How to Mobilize Communities for Social Change. Baltimore, MD: Howard-Grabman, L., & Sentro, G. 

(2) Community mapping is a participatory process of creating maps or visual representation of the intervention community as seen by the community members. Maps are drawn for different reason and for Bridge 2 Project maps serves as a tool for planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the program.

(3) A problem tree is a participatory visual problem-analysis tool used to explore issues or problems in the community by visualization of the problem in form of a diagram.  It can be used to specify and investigate the cause and effects of a problem and to highlight the relationship between them.  A tree has three main branches and these are: 1) Trunk (problem), 2) Roots (causes of the problem), 3) Leaves (effects of the problem).